I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead
Will Graham (Clive Owen) is a dark, moody, mysterious character who ambles about aimlessly and mutters in a thick English accent. The same could be said the movie.
The film begins by following Will’s brother Davey through his nightly rounds of drug deals, sex, and scams. The night does not end well; Davey is found dead in his bathtub the next day. Will, who has been living a hermit’s life in a beat up van in the countryside, has a vision of Davey that sends him back to London. When he gets there, he sets out to find the reason for Davey’s death. What Will---and the audience---find is a pat answer tacked abruptly to the end of the film.
The film’s primary problem is in pacing: Too much time is spent upfront, following Davey from point to point, waiting for his friends and landlord to discover his body, following Will from point to point, waiting for Will to discover that Davey is dead and return to London. The ending then feels rushed, as Will too quickly and easily discovers who is responsible for his brother’s death and demands and explanation. The film winds up feeling like a television crime show in which the crime is always wrapped up with a neat bow in the last five minutes.
The second problem is a lack of resolution. The man responsible for Davey’s death is a pretty little speech that probably looked great on the page, but it doesn’t really reveal anything as to why Davey was targeted for the man’s wrath or what he expected to gain from his attack on Davey. Nor does the audience get any answer to the other---more pressing---mystery: Why did Will leave London? The question is asked, repeatedly, within the film, but then dropped unceremoniously without even a hint of reason.
The only thing the film does resolve is any debate on whether Clive Owen should be the next James Bond. The answer is no. Owen certainly is tall and handsome, he looks good in a suit, and he has the requisite English accent. But Bond has a mischievous wit and playfulness that Owen lacks. Now as Bond’s nemesis . . . that’s an idea.Off the Map
An eccentric, clothing-optional family living off the land in New Mexico. A suit-wearing IRS man from the city. The culture shock that follows as each learns to respect the other.
Or maybe not.
Let’s try again. A young girl growing up with an eccentric family living off the land in New Mexico who wants a more normal life. A suit-wearing IRS man from the city. Together, they learn that normal isn’t always better as the girl comes of age.
Nope. Not that either.
Once more. A depressed father heading an eccentric family living off the land in New Mexico. His young daughter who wants a more normal life. Together, they help each other through.
Still not it.
“Off the Map” is a beautifully filmed movie with a stellar cast that includes Joan Allen, J.K. Simmons, and Sam Elliott. The movie, however, doesn’t have a story. It’s little more than a series of quirky situations that get mired in their own quirkiness without a narrative thread to hold them together and move the film forward.
The set up of the film is the eccentric family, with Joan Allen (in very bad extensions) as the mother, Sam Elliott as the depressed father, and Valentina de Angelis as the young daughter, Bo, who wants a normal life but isn’t quite sure what that is. Into their lives comes William Gibb (Jim True-Frost, who did fish-out-of-water way better in The Wire), an IRS agent from Albuquerque. Will’s first impression of the family is the mother standing gloriously naked in the garden, and soon after, he falls sick from a mysterious disease and in love with the mother. As the weeks go by, he stays with the family and takes up painting. In the meantime, Bo develops a crush on Will and the life he left behind.
But the film doesn’t move past its set up. There’s no conflict, little growth, and no resolution. The dialogue is mostly stilted and unconnected, and even a voice-over narrative from the young girl doesn’t connect the dots.
For a film with so many possibilities and such great talent, this is waste.